Candidates for Staff Senate 2023-2024

The candidates for the Staff Senate elections are listed below, organized by job category. The candidates will be identically organized on the ballot. Each candidate has prepared a short bio to share with the voters so you can get to know them and why they want to represent you on Staff Senate.

Candidates for Staff Senate 2023-2024

Teri Chambers, Administrative Associate, Biodiversity Institute

I have been an active member of the KU Staff Senate off and on during my time at KU.  I was first on the Support Staff Senate from 2005 through 2013 and on the Staff Senate starting in 2018 through my current term.  I have been on various Staff Senate Committees over the years including the Communications Committee (now Public Relations), Diversity & Equity Committee, Personnel Committee, and other task forces and work groups.  I have been representing Staff Senate on the University Senate since 2018, and in 2022 became the first ever staff member to be University Senate Vice President.

I strongly believe in the value of the labor that KU Staff provide to this university.  From our Facilities staff maintaining over 200 buildings on campus, to administrative staff running academic, student support, and research offices, staff keep KU running.  That is my motivation for being on Staff Senate and running for President of Staff Senate.  I will continue to speak out on issues important to staff such as low pay, salary compression, career advancement and creating a culture of respect.  When these concerns are not addressed, it leads to low morale and high turn-over which hurts KU and its mission.  I will work to keep these issues in front of KU Administration.

Jennifer Laverentz, Office Manager, CReSIS


Elise Goubet, Administrative Associate, Counseling & Psychological Services

I am an Alabama transplant with a master’s degree in (Cognitive) Psychology from the University of Kansas and have been working at KU’s Counseling & Psychological Services for one year. During my undergraduate years at The University of Alabama, I had numerous leadership roles including President of the National Alliance for Mental Illness – UA Chapter and Youth Council Member for the Alabama Disabilities and Advocacy Program. During graduate school, I served as the Cognitive Student Representative to Psychology Faculty meetings and was the Student Notebook Editor for the Association for Psychological Science – Student Caucus. I would love to get more involved in the KU community and advocate for staff by serving on the KU Staff Senate!

Wyatt Haywood, Administrative Associate, Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies

I joined KU in August of 2021 as the administrative associate for the Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies. My office also serves the department of French, Francophone, and Italian Studies, as well as the department of East Asian Languages & Cultures. Before coming to KU, I earned an MA in Classical Archaeology from Florida State University and BAs in Art History and Classical Languages from the University of California, Davis. Rural Northern California, where I was raised, is not all too different from Kansas to my surprise!

Presently, I serve on the Staff Senate DEI Committee as a facilitator with the Unpacking Whiteness in the Workplace workshop and on the University Senate International Affairs committee. I look forward to furthering my service to the university and the staff community, hopefully though Staff Senate! We all deserve a voice and a seat at the table.

Claire Yan, Grant Coordinator, Office of Research 

I have been employed by KU for the past three years in different account and financial roles. This experience has given me a number of skills working with others, as well as insight into the needs of a number of KU staff members. I hope that I can utilize this insight in making KU a more safe, equitable, and employee-drive workplace. If selected for Senate, I will work to maintain and improve the work-life balance of KU employees, as well as advance the quality of critical benefits, such as employee tuition assistance, maternity and child care benefits, and work-from-home policies.

Corinna Lynn Johnson, Grant Coordinator, Office of Research

During my 15+ years at KU, I have collaborated with and learned from many talented and dedicated individuals. I have an MBA from Friends University in Wichita. I’ve worked in academic administration at the department level in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and my current role is in research administration. The KU atmosphere of consistent growth, striving for excellence, and a continuous endeavor for progress is exhilarating. I have been involved with many different committees over the years and have a strong knowledge of State and University regulations, policies, and guidelines. I am eager to increase my involvement, focusing on staff professional development and expanding opportunities for staff access to resources for growth and development. I welcome the opportunity to serve our KU community as a member of the Staff Senate.

Heather Cook, Research Analyst, Analytics, Institutional Research, & Effectiveness 

I am a research analyst in AIRE on the Official Reporting Team. I started at KU this past November. Previously, I worked at Caldwell University in my home state of New Jersey, where I started as a librarian and then transitioned to become a research analyst. While at Caldwell, I served two years on their Staff Council.  This body served as an intermediary between the President and staff, planning informal conversations as well as celebratory gatherings. I am interested in serving on the Staff Senate as a way to connect with others, learn more about KU, and aid in the effort to support the staff.

McKenzie Henderson, SSC HR Coordinator, Carruth SSC

While I am relatively new to KU, I believe I can make a positive impact on the Staff Senate. I have a degree in Organizational Leadership and more than four years of Human Resource experience. I have been employed at KU for more than a year and a half with the Carruth Shared Services Center where I have become very familiar with campus administration and operations as well as some of the important organization changes happening. I am passionate about effective communication, creating meaningful connections, and fostering a positive workplace culture. To be student centered we need to take care of our staff who pour into students, and I know serving on Staff Senate will allow me to become more involved with campus and be a voice for staff in decisions being made.

Tricia Roberson, Financial Analyst Intermediate, Financial Services Office of Research

I have worked in Higher Education for over fifteen years. In those fifteen years, I have worked with students and support staff. In the span of my career, I have worked with both students and staff as an advocate.

For students, I have worked closely with continuing education, credit, and international students to provide fair and equitable treatment to meet their needs. I have worked closely with all levels of staff to provide Cost Center manager training and assistance with Payroll and Accounts Payable needs. I have also worked with students, staff, and the State of Maryland to resolve uncollected payments. I have worked with all levels of management, staff, students, and parents to resolve issues, I look forward to the opportunity to exercise these experiences with the Staff Senate for the University of Kansas.

Trina Collins, Business Director, Achievement & Assessment Inst

Greetings Fellow Staff! My name is Latrina Collins. I am the Business Director of Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (Achievement & Assessment Institute). I have been with the University since October 2020. I have a passion for impacting positive change in policies and practices and advocating on behalf of staff. I currently serve as a member of the Staff Senate, and I am seeking re-election. I currently serve on the Staff Senate Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Lead of Accountability and Engagement Action Team), Personnel Affairs Committee (Lead of Invest in Employees Action Team), Professional Development Committee, and I am the Treasurer-Elect. The Staff Senate does great and important work that benefits all staff. I really enjoy participating and it would be my honor and pleasure to be re-elected to Staff Senate. Thank you in advance for your support.

Sam Evans, General Maintenance Repair Technician, Facilities Services

As a prospective member of Staff Senate, I source my experience to witnessing intersectional struggle in myself and my peers in a setting of multiple economic recessions, pandemic, and normalized exploitation for comfort's sake. Yet, in a culture of avoidance, I take it upon myself to wield my privileges towards being a catalyst for direct action and change on behalf of my colleagues.

My focus as a member of the Staff Senate would be on my obligation to serve my peers directly and compassionately in an untapped student/worker-centric environment. I envision a working and learning environment that prioritizes infrastructure investment, promotes a culture of institutional and mutual support, eliminates bureaucratic policies that hinder knowledge and communication, ensures humane wages, and eradicates toxic self-interest.

I would pose direct questioning, prioritize our people before profits, advocate one another's voices, and, finally, empower each peer individually to create continuous positive impact, from my potential place in the Staff Senate.

My qualifications for the Senator role include my grounded values, instinctual advocacy as applied to my current role as a GMRT – HVAC, willingness to lean into discomfort from problem solving to resolution, and an understanding of the layered challenges and opportunities facing the KU community. Together we will grow from the ground up and succeed in ways that are directly meaningful to us all.

Thank you for your consideration.

Vance Sorell, General Maintenance Repair Technician, Operations

My name is Vance Sorell and I am an Operations Team member in the lock shop.  Although I am relatively new as a staff member to the University of Kansas, I want to serve in the KU community to be part of a team that helps others.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Industrial Technologies and have used that knowledge as well as learned a whole lot more in my previous career in the energy industry.  My wife and I moved to this community to be closer to family while we cheer on the Jayhawks. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve students and other staff in whatever capacity is asked of me.

Angela Robb, Research Project Specialist, Dynamic Learning Maps - ATLAS

I have worked at KU since 2017 and am currently a Research Project Specialist at ATLAS. I have worked in higher education for the last 20 years. I believe staff can make a difference in advocating for all employees when it comes to recognition, professional development, personnel concerns, and anything to help staff feel positive about being at KU. Since 2017 I have been a member of numerous committees: Public Relations (2020), Legislative Affairs (2020-2022), Professional Development (2018-2022), and Personnel Affairs (2018-Current). I was nominated to the University Senate Library Appeals Board in 2018 as well as the University Senate Libraries Committee in 2022. I have served on multiple college committees such as College Communicators, Jayhawks Rising Health and Wellness Awareness, and College Staff Council. We can make changes and be heard! I would love the opportunity to serve all employees as a Staff Senate member.

Megan Sims, Assistant Researcher, Biodiversity Institute

I’m the Collection Manager for the Vertebrate Paleontology division at the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum. My primary role is to catalog and database the specimens in our division’s collection and manage all of their associated archival material, publications, departmental records, and digital media. I also provide support to our faculty and student researchers by assisting with specimen access and imaging (photography, etc.), and to other museum staff by assisting with tours, public programs, and exhibit development. I’ve participated in three search committees at the Biodiversity Institute, which sparked my interest in pursuing further leadership opportunities at KU and collaborating with fellow staff across campus. I’m excited to potentially serve on Staff Senate, especially during a time of change and progress with the Jayhawks Rising strategic planning initiative.

Grace Aaronson, Academic Advisor, Jayhawk Academic Advising

Hello! My name is Grace Aaronson. I am a recent KU graduate with a bachelor’s in science in Management and Leadership. I am an Academic Advisor serving primarily pre-business and pre-journalism students. I decided to run for Staff Senate because I enjoy being involved in decisions and change for myself and my colleagues. In college, I held different leadership roles including HR Club president, teaching assistant for multiple classes, and a college ministry small group leader. All these experiences helped me recognize my desire to lead and make a difference in the variety of communities I am involved in. As I approach a year of being an academic advisor, I have met countless staff and faculty members and I strive to advocate for professional development, employee recognition and a healthy workplace. I feel the next step in making an impact is by being a part of the Staff Senate!

Marley Hays, Student Recruiter, International Support Services

Howdy! My name is Marley Hays, and I’m a student recruiter in International Support Services (ISS), a unit under International Affairs. I work to recruit a diverse population of prospective international students, who reflect all that KU can be.  I am consistently finding areas where we can remove barriers to their matriculation, particularly in the domains of affordability and access. Before this, I was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the KU English department and graduated from KU with a thesis in English.

Since becoming a staff member, I understand the vital role we play in the University. To sustain the health of KU, staff need representation. I plan to use my writing and advocacy skills to help improve staff satisfaction and align the University’s mission with tangible practices that benefit our units. I am excited for the opportunity to engage all levels of the University to affect change.

Michael Dunlap, Academic Advisor, Jayhawk Academic Advising 

After serving the students of Maryville University in St. Louis as a Life Coach for the past 3 years, Michael Dunlap, MA, recently started as an Academic Advisor with Jayhawk Academic Advising and the University Honors Program. By running for Staff Senate for the first time in his career, Dunlap is hoping to broaden and expand his service to the KU campus community and be a voice for progress while gaining new insights into university governance.

Sarah Wilson Merriman, Academic Accommodations Advisor, Student Access Center, University Academic Support Centers

Sarah Wilson Merriman is employed at KU as the Access Specialist for Online Engagement in the Student Access Center – University Academic Support Centers. She has been an employee at KU for 5 years and has worked at a variety of higher education systems for the last 20 years. Sarah serves as a current member at large on Staff Senate and is also a University Senator, positions she’s held for the last year. Additionally, she is a member of the Legislative Affairs and the Academic Policies & Procedures committees as a part of these roles.

Sarah has an interest in continuing as a staff senate member because she believes that it is important for staff voices to be recognized at all levels of the institution. As a disabled employee she also believes in the importance of having a diverse set of voices represented in university governance.

Tara Combes, Academic Advisor, Jayhawk Academic Advising

I am the Academic Success Coach for the MSW and DSW programs with Jayhawk Global. One of the things I am passionate about is mental health and wellness. As a former school counselor I believe it is extremely important for our students, staff, and faculty to feel emotionally supported through programs and resources offered at all levels of the University. To best serve our students, we must first be emotionally well, ourselves. Strong wellness programs also lead to student and staff retention. I am most interested in the professional development and wellness opportunities offered to staff and faculty. I want to learn more about the University’s organizational structures and policies so that I can advocate for the mental health and wellness of students, staff, and faculty. I am looking forward to interacting with the larger University population and immersing myself in the aggregate institution.